Thursday, July 28, 2016

So full.

Hi friends,
How is everyone's summer going?  Ours has been a crazy blur and school already starts in a few short weeks so we're busy wrapping things up and enjoying every little scrap we can!  Joe started driver's ed classes and I think keeping track of his busy schedule alone, is killing my brain cells!  But...I wouldn't have it any other way... this teenage mom-gig is the best.  (Well as long as it's not one of those hormone driven days. ha!)  That said, we've already squeezed so much goodness into the month of July I feel like we've gotten our money's worth of summer. 

Last weekend was filled with a ferry trip with Adrain's sisters to extended family, and once again I was reminded what a beautiful place the Pacific NW is.  On the way there, we made a little pit-stop for lunch to Adrain's university, the University of Puget Sound.  I think my son made his college decision after seeing the music building, the dorms and the gorgeous campus... not to mention the radio station where his daddy worked as a D.J.  His eyes were huge with the music possibilities.  Ava was thrilled with the library. 

 While on the grounds, I snapped this shot and loved it so much, I've made it available as a print in my shop.  (Click here to purchase.)

 As parents we had a Friday night where both kiddos went to the movies with friends and we were all alone with nothing better to do than pack a picnic and back the truck up to the bay where we could overlook the Pacific and San Juan archipelago. 

For dessert I made these- a jar filled with lemon yogurt, topped with cantaloupe balls and salted pistachios.  The combo is amazing.  And healthy.  Mmm!
Our picnic consisted of sauteed shrimp, a watermelon cucumber and feta salad and an amazing cucumber, radish and avocado gazpacho from here.  (I'm a huge gazpacho fan.)  
 On Sunday we hiked 7 miles up a mountain and along the ridge top, and I'm still sore.  It was a hike we did back in 2010 and if you've been reading my blog a while you might remember this post from it.
(I had to giggle when I saw my boys standing looking at the view... I remembered this photo (above) from 2010 and they were in about the exact same spot.  Little 10 year old Joe (JJ back then).  Where did my baby go?)
 We were surrounded on all sides, by mountains.  It's a gorgeous hike, no doubt.
  This was our lunch view.  Meh... it's okay.
(I  had to post this one for old time's sake too... my (then) little eight year old Ava, picking wildflowers when we stopped for lunch up there. Those little pig tails...)

You would think that seeing all of that magnificent beauty all weekend would have assured me of my place in the universe and how God has it all in His mighty hand.  Sadly, I seem to need constant reassurance in that department.  I was awakened at 3am a few nights ago, feeling the overwhelming panic in our circumstances in life with Adrain's new job, being parents of teens, some relationships I was convinced I was ruining, some big decisions I'm trying to make, to name a few.  I had woken from a horrible dream and the hot summer night was stifling.  I got up and went to the window for a breath of fresh air.  As I lifted the curtain and peeked out into the darkness, I felt a cooling breeze and looked up.  The sky was crystal clear and there were so many more stars out than I normally notice.  I stood at my window taking in the calm and silence and I felt like God whispered to my heart, "I made all of that. Don't you know by now that if I am able to make and manage all that you see and all that you don't see... that I can surely manage all that's in your heart tonight?"  

What a precious reminder.  I took it to heart and each time I begin to chew over the things that trouble me, I remember that clear sky and His gentle reminder.  I wander so easily.  I keep thinking of the song by Kari Jobe, "You are for me."  Sometimes we have to say the truths we know over and over to ourselves... she said that she wrote this song during a season where that was true for her.  I'll close with some of her words, and I hope they speak to you. 

So faithful
So constant
So loving and so true
So powerful in all You do
You fill me
You see me
You know my every move
You love for me to sing to You
I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weaknesses
I know that You have come now
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Everybody's gotta little dirt road in em.

Hi sweet things.  I haven't meant to neglect you!  Just summer... you know how it gets!  Joe had his first job all month, and Ava's babysitting and then drivers ed began and I'm doing my best to keep up with all these schedules! 

I just wanted to peek in and chat for a moment with some little Sasha updates. Today was a little rough on me but I did get a chance to snap a few lovely phone photos from the back of my mama's MOVING car, while my crazy brother (the cop) was driving like a speed-chased maniac on the country roads! (Yeah I just called him out for speeding.  We have this talk about once a year, he and I.) (If I had emoticons here, I'd add the winky face tongue sticking out and the laughing crying one for good measure so he knew I wasn't angry.  Because seriously what in the world did we do before emoticons to show our actual emotions... Oh yeah... we actually TALKED on the phone so people could HEAR the inflection of our voices.  Well whatever.)

Still.  From a MOVING car, through a backseat window, on a phone camera.  Just saying. Well played, Samsung Galaxy S7. You rock my photography world.  (And I asked my country raised man what it's like to drive a tractor and he said it's awesome.  This just looked so amazing as we sped by...)
 My dream barn.  Someday I want to own this and host weddings and events.  I mean could you even?

My shop: I am still so up in the air about keeping it open long-term, versus pop up shops... and yada, yada, yada so for right now, it's staying open until the end of the calendar year and I've reduced all my print prices to $15, plus added back in my holiday and fall prints and am letting it just sit for whoever wants to purchase.  I am running a Christmas in July free shipping code "SUMMER" if you want to take advantage of that until July 25. You can click here to shop and thank you for your business.  As always, I appreciate you more than you can ever know. 

Blog comments: I'm so sorry... the spamming situation was out of control for a while... Often waking up to over 100 spammy comments to delete and block.  I felt like I couldn't stop them so I just closed them all down until I figure out a better way to reduce them.  However, your emails have cheered and blessed me so thank you for the sweetness.  I know you're out there reading... just hang tight til I get this figured out!

Which leads me to this...

BIG blog changes on my horizon!  I'm soon to be changing over things to a new name, a new site and a new chapter!  I've already changed my public Instagram account to @Seekingwholeheartedly.  Which is going to most likely become my new blog moniker, after the verse Jeremiah 29:13. I'll be sure to give lots more info and reasons/explanations as I get closer to that changeover... I'm excited to see where this new venture takes me and those of you signed up with feedburner should switch over automatically but I'm not very techy so I'm not even sure what that means.  I won't be closing this site down right away so it can be referred to and such, but I also won't be publishing here once I've got things moved to the new spot! Stay tuned... I'm getting excited.

Summer: Ava and I are almost done watching Gilmore girls, I've been reading the Merlon Murders series on Amazon Kindle Unlimited and we are watching Lost as a family.  Our weekends are wild for the following month and I plan to pop in with more photos soon... also we did a front yard overhaul of flowers and I hope to share those changes soon. 

My husband's job is going really well and God is blessing & providing for our needs, though I'm struggling with not taking personally, an odd lack of support from places I figured would be first in line.  It's hard to explain and hard to say because I don't want anyone to feel called out or finger pointed at... yet... I need to keep the right and not hurt attitude.  Which can be a challenge.  We've gotten great support from most so it's not an issue... it's just a matter of changing expectations and trusting God to fill gaps and not taking things to heart.  Amazing that I didn't anticipate that but good lessons through it, so maybe I'll write a post on what living on faith has been teaching me when and IF I ever learn anything about that. Ha! 

We plan to climb a mountain soon, because I told my man tonight... I need mountaintop therapy.  Some of you get that.  I feel like God speaks so near to my ear when I'm up there...

I feel like I could chat about so much more but I wanted to keep this short so I could chat more later.  Love to you all... and thank you for doing this journey, cheering us on, praying for us and supporting us through it. 
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Thursday, June 30, 2016

When Instagram takes over my blog & a few house pics

I sometimes forget that Instagram and this blog aren't connected!  I can share tiny snippets on Instagram, but love to give more detail and photos here.  I recently posted on my guest room updates and chatted about a few solutions I was still hoping to come up with. (You see, this is what happens when you paint a room. One thing leads to another.  It's awesome.  If you're scared of change, just go with it!) Anyhow, at the time of my last post, I was hunting for some specific storage pieces since I was trying to make room for my Etsy supplies and hide some unsightly items.  I thought I wanted the room arranged a certain way and hoped to find a tall dresser for a certain corner.  I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted but I figured I'd find it via thrift shops etc. 

I've actually had people emailing me asking me what I came up with as they were looking to create similar solutions in office/guest rooms so I wanted to pop in and share.  (FYI I wasn't able to figure out a long-term solution to the ugly, yet necessary printer.  I tidied it up a bit and consolidated some things but that's all I can do for now.)

I had an overall plan in my brain but then as I kept looking and shopping, I realized I wasn't going to find what I wanted exactly... The corner is fairly tight and I couldn't find a dresser or cupboard with the narrow measurements and height that I wanted.  As I shopped, I realized that I might find something if I remained just a bit flexible.  Huh.  Isn't that the way of things in life?  Just a touch of flexibility and you end up with an ever better situation sometimes. 

I headed out super early one morning and prayed about it, and by the end of the morning, I had located both a chair and dresser that were exactly what I hoped to find. (On a whim, I popped into Pier 1 as a last stop before heading home, and found this wood dresser/sidetable. It was a deep and deceptively large piece, in the exact finish I wanted... and, it was a floor model so it was 50% off.  It even has a little pull out slab for extra tabletop room!)  I wanted a piece that was quality and that would also work in other rooms in the home if changes are ever made someday. (Not that I would ever change things.  This is merely a hypothetical future possibility.) (Ha!)

 I also did find this armchair at the Habitat for Humanity store and painted and reupholstered it that afternoon because it was simply begging me to help it.  I had wanted a chair that could be used at my little desk, but also turned and used as a comfortable armchair when the desk was closed up, or when guests were staying.  The upholstery project was really a simple matter of staple gunning fabric to the bottom of the removable seat and took about five minutes tops.  I hadn't been certain of the fabric I would like to use, so I purchased two different types, a yard of each.  The other fabric was a softer blue/gray paisley (what is it about paisley that calls to me?) and I knew I could use it for a pillow if I didn't like it for the seat of this chair.

Which is precisely what I ended up doing but I'll get to that in a moment. 

 I kept the small wall shelf that had been above my desk and just placed a jar of guest sample toiletries and this sweetly framed verse on it.

 I adore being in this room.  Working on projects, art, my grocery list or packaging up orders and such.  All my supplies for Etsy tucked perfectly into the sidetable and are out of sight when guests are with us.  Plus, I love how calm and simple this room is, and it soothes my creatively lacking soul right now.  I'm in a creative funk and sometimes I just sit in here and think about my shop, my art, my blog, future ideas and plans.  Or I read.  That's my go-to when I can't think or cope.
  As for the pillow situation.  I had ordered two pale gray buffalo check replacement pillow covers several weeks ago from an Etsy shop, Pillowmatic.  I was feeling in need of a general pillow refresh. One of the old blue ones had been stained for a while, one was pilling which I hate, plus sometimes a calming change is welcome. (Is this a theme for my life right now?  Hmm. I think so.)  In the end, though I hadn't planned on it, the leftover fabrics from my little chair project were perfect non-matching yet almost coordinating and I loved how they pulled together perfectly with the jute trimmed cream pillows that I've had for years.  Like it was all meant to be.

So those are my recent solutions and updates.  I hope that helps those of you who were wondering! 

I'm off to celebrate the long weekend of the 4th.  I've been introduced to the game of golf recently and my sis in law and I became immediate addicts, much to the delight of our guys.  We all plan to hit the links again this weekend and I'm literally dreaming about my golf swing. The rest of the weekend will be filled with BBQs and relaxation.  Also Ava planned the holiday menu so that should be fun.  This age cracks me up.   

Hoping you all have a lovely holiday weekend.
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Monday, June 27, 2016

I can forget...

(Photos in this post are of my beautiful dancing daughter right before her ballet performance last weekend. Not related to my post content, just lovely & shared for the grandmas. I didn't think you'd mind...)

Memory. It's a big thing in my world these days. 

Memory is a funny thing.  It spurs us forward because of what we once experienced.  The trouble lies in those moments we have forgotten.  Those times when we've been stuck, felt hopeless, yet were rescued in big and small ways that showed how much God cared... only to forget years later when we faced a similar life giant.  I can forget.  I can forget how God keeps His promises to me.  I can forget how tenderly He deals with me when I deserve nothing from Him.  I can forget how He never forgets.  I can forget how He keeps me close to His heart, always cradled in the palm of His hand.  I can forget that if it matters to me, it matters to Him.  I can forget that the things I need are always at the forefront of His mind, and He doesn't want me to worry because there simply is no need.

In February, as most of you know, Adrain left his 20 year career and changed directions completely into the world of insurance and finance with a Christian organization.  It left me breathless.  Mostly, it left me breathless in fear and worry about how we were going to make ends meet with a 100% commission type career after 20 years of a steady paycheck.  Because I'd forget.  I'd forget about every single solitary collective thing in my past 40 years with God.  As I would scratch things out on paper in March, chewing anxiously on the end of my pencil, I'd think, "how can this work?"  And then God...

I could end this post right here.  Because it begins and ends with that; "And then God..."

I began scribbling down all the places and times something happened miraculously, coincidentally, perfectly timed, etc over the past nearly five months.  I have a running list right now, of things we didn't anticipate, things we didn't know about, perfectly timed, things we thought wouldn't happen that did, and then things we feared might happen that didn't.  I also wrote down seven personal prayer goals for the things I cautiously hoped God would help, (when will I stop with the cautious part and move into bold territory?) provide or take care of through this job change, and then God...    

He has been graciously allowing me to systematically check those boxes off  that prayer request list I laid at His feet back in February and that leaves me breathless as well but for different reasons.  I feel breathless over my own forgetfulness.  I forget that HE FREAKING LOVES ME! If I started there, it might just end there... peacefully in my own heart.

 This weekend we had some beloved missionary friends staying with us and I picked their brains about how to not fret over God's provision over this whole living on faith thing because missionaries must surely have that market cornered.  I tried to hide my desperation for their key to knowledge by acting as nonchalantly as possible when I freakishly pinned them to the ground with, "So uh... how do you not completely freak out that you only get paid when people feel led to give your mission funds?"  That was followed by a very real and sweetly emotional time as my friend shared how he sees things after these many years... He said that he always thinks about that old hymn, Come Thou Fount." There is a line in the second verse where it says, "Here I raise my Ebenezer" and he reminded us what that was (and it had nothing to do with Scrooge, which derailed us shortly as we howled with laughter over our mental images of the Duck Tales version of Scrooge McDuck raising a stein or something as a toast.) An ebenezer is also a monument.  And by raising it, it also means you build it.  So in biblical days, people often built or raised a monument after God had helped or delivered them.  In that way, they could visually see and be reminded of how God had been a very present help in their times of need and not forget... so when we keep a notepad filled with things and ways God has delivered us, we are raising our ebenezer.  As we blog about His answers to prayer and His faithfulness when we deserved nothing, we are raising our ebenezer. 

As I reflected on many of these thoughts I realized that leaving fears over our future come down to an active personal choice.  There isn't a magical number of times God can deliver us that will cause a mental shift where suddenly we are  able to trust, hands-free, care-free and worry-free.  At some point we must look back... see... remember... and then not knowing what the future will hold, still choose to plant our faith flag in the sand and say, "Okay I trust. I choose to trust. Help my unbelief!" 

How about you?  Do you need to plant your flag in the sand next to mine and link arms in this choice so we don't forget?  Is God calling you to step out in faith in an area but you've been paralyzed with fear?  Do you need to go back and make a list of ways He has been faithful in this life?  

Because I can so easily forget... here I am, raising my ebenezer to His faithfulness.
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